Blink and you missed it, but there’s been some serious action around the league in the last 24 hours – perhaps owed to (1) the IFA period opening up and (2) arrival of the arbitration exchange deadline … or maybe it was (3) some additional certainty about the length and timing of the season or (4) further context on the expected rules. In any case, let’s discuss.
DJ LeMahieu to the Yankees
Most notably, DJ LeMahieu did finally re-sign with the New York Yankees for six years and $90 million. While $15M seems like a really low AAV, I think the overall deal makes plenty of sense, especially as rumored offers from the Dodgers (4 years, $60M) and Blue Jays (4 years, $78M) came up short of the total commitment from New York. This was probably always going to be LeMahieu’s final decent contract (whether it was four years or six years), so taking the most overall dollars makes sense from his perspective. And for the Yankees, the lengthy commitment actually helps spread out the AAV for luxury tax purposes (which, sure, might not matter after next season anyway, but still).
Speaking of which, this deal does get me thinking about an extension for Anthony Rizzo again:
DJ LeMahieu, 32, just signed a six-year, $90M contract as a free agent.
Anthony Rizzo will be a 32-year-old free agent next winter.
I know they play different positions and offer different skillsets, but I do think this is one of those useful data points for an extension.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 15, 2021
When I conjured up my own theoretical Rizzo extension, I landed on what was effectively a $95M guarantee over four years starting with his first “free agent” season, with some creative accounting that helps the Cubs out in 2021 and adds an option onto the end (just read the post for the details), but I think that offer just came down a bit, right? Let me be clear: Rizzo and LeMahieu are very different players, and the Yankees and Cubs are at different points in their cycle, but re-signing with your current big market team (that really wants to keep you) as a borderline star 32-year-old free agent infielder offers at least some useful information.
Speaking of comparing free agent deals for 32-year-olds:
With reports that DJ LeMahieu's new contract with the Yankees is for 6 years & $90M:
6+ year FA deal, entering age 32 season or older (since 1991):
2016 Zack Greinke
2012 Albert Pujols
2011 Jayson Werth
2008 Alex Rodriguez
2003 Jim Thome
2001 Mike Mussina
1999 Kevin Brown
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) January 15, 2021
Okay, moving onto the many other deals!
Archie Bradley to the Phillies
While I had pretty much abandoned any hope that the Cubs would sign a “sure-thing” reliever this offseason (which is not wholly a criticism, given their recent success unearthing cheaper, higher upside, potentially long-term options elsewhere), I was a little bummed by the cheapness of his deal: one year, $6M. Which reminds me … For $16 million in 2021, any team could have added Brad Hand ($10M) and Archie Bradley ($6M) for one year. In 2019 they were worth a combined 2.8 WAR. In 2020, a combined 1.7 WAR (short season). A one year commitment. That’s it.
(Look, I get it … when Hand was available, there was a TON of uncertainty about the market and the season and the finances and whatever. Moreover, to say “any” team could have had these guys isn’t entirely fair. It’s not about only money for every free agent. But I think the broader point there is that a calculated risk early in the offseason could’ve paid off BIG. And big market teams, like the Cubs, should routinely be in a position to take advantage of their big market. Unfortunately, this offseason, so far, things have gone the other way. Oh, well.)
Brad Hand Confusion
Speaking of which, there was a report from Ken Rosenthal earlier today that the Mets had come to a two-year deal on Hand, but Rosenthal was later told that’s not quite done yet *and* other teams are still involved:
Mets continue to talk to star close Brad Hand and while they appear to have a decent chance, sources are saying they aren’t close to a deal yet. Astros, Jays, Dodgers among others interested.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 15, 2021
The San Francisco Giants continued to be active this winter, signing another starting pitcher to a one-year deal ($3 million guaranteed with another $3M in incentives):
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) January 15, 2021
Previously, the Giants retained would-be free agent starter Kevin Gausman, who accepted their one-year, $18.9M qualifying offer, and also signed Anthony DeSclafani to a one-year, $6M contract. Good for them for trying, though they are still well behind the Dodgers and Padres in that division.
And lastly (for now), the Houston Astros have signed (slowest) reliever (of all-time) Pedro Báez to a two-year deal with 12.5 million guaranteed, but much more than that available if options are picked up or certain thresholds are reached:
Báez contract details:
–$500k signing bonus
–2021: $4.5 mil salary
–2022: $5.5 mil base salary that can reach $6.5 mil if he hits all IP escalators
–2023: $7.5 mil club option w/a $2 million buyout ($8 mil option and $2.5 mil buyout if he logs 100 IP between 2021 and 2022)
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) January 14, 2021
I think this is a pretty healthy deal for Báez, 32, who’s been one of the most consistent relievers in MLB (in terms of run prevention) since 2014: 2.63 ERA, 3.35 ERA, 3.04 ERA, 2.95 ERA, 2.88 ERA, 3.10 ERA, 3.18 ERA. Do it that well and that consistently for that long and some scarier peripherals aren’t always a nail in the coffin.